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Bishop Sutton strikes conciliatory note in essay on ordinariate

Bishop Sutton strikes conciliatory note in essay on ordinariate

Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland has written an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun about the recent comings and goings between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, formed more than 450 years ago. Since its founding, many Anglicans and Episcopalians have chosen to continue their spiritual journeys in the Roman Catholic Church. And many Roman Catholics have chosen to become Episcopalians. I have often said we are one spiritual family living in two houses.

For instance, the dean of our Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore is a former Roman Catholic priest. Some of the more notable priests who became Episcopalian are Father Matthew Fox, the theologian and teacher of creation spirituality, and Father Alberto Cutié, a television personality and parish priest in Florida. There are currently more than 400 former Roman Catholic priests and deacons now serving in the Episcopal Church. And recently I received two Roman Catholic deacons into our diocese who are currently serving in parishes.

But for me, the bottom line is not which denomination is winning members from the other, but rather whether we are doing the work that Jesus called us to do. I’m an Episcopalian because the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer is all about living out the Gospel, or “good news.” When I was confirmed into the Episcopal Church, I was asked if I would seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself, and would I respect the dignity of every human being. I have found I can best do that work in the Episcopal Church, while others have found the Roman Catholic Church or other denominations better suited for them.

The bishop is irenic about the ordinariate. What are your feelings?


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C. Wingate

Anne, I am told that high on the list of reasons the All Saints sisters left was that they had not had anyone advance to postulancy in many years, and that it seemed to them that staying within ECUSA was going to preserve that state of inevitable decline. Make all the predictions you like, but one may posit that fifteen further years in this church may well have led to essentially the same result as you predict. Personally, I think trying to predict fifteen years out in our current religious climate is untenable; I’m increasingly unwilling to predict from one GC to the next!


I absolutely agree with you, Michael. It’s one of the things that makes me so sad about All Saint’s Convent in Catonsville going to Rome: they must have had no clue about how nuns are treated by the Roman church. I’ve said it before, but my prediction for that property is that it will be taken over by the Archdiocese, and the sisters shunted off to a home within 15 years.

I must say, though, that the congregations going to Rome seem to be resolving property issues fairly well. I don’t think the Baltimore Archdiocese wanted to get into any legal issues with the Diocese of Maryland. There are more Episcopal churches downtown than can reasonably be supported, so Mount Calvary leaving was probably a reasonable way of ‘downsizing.’

– Anne LeVeque

Michael Russell

While this is a gracious letter, it is not simply a pleasant mutual exchange of people. Roman Catholics can come to the Episcopal Church without having to deny the validity of their previous life of faith.

Episcopalians who go to Rome deny that the very sacraments they so deeply valued were not valid. Baptisms yes (well maybe) but not the Eucharist, Holy Orders and perhaps marriage. The Bishop of Rome does not recognize our Eucharist or our Orders.

When they swim the Tiber to Rome their final message to us is: “You’re not real and neither were we.”

In their hearts, if they knew anything at all about Rome, they knew they were living a lie in the Episcopal Church. So I hope they are happy now, but other than that I have little to say about their hypocrisy in staying so long and then expecting to take resources with them.


From my heart, I wish for those who enter the RC ordinariate to find a home where they can be at peace as they worship God and serve in their communities.

Traffic has been going back and forth between the two churches for quite a long time, and I wonder a bit at all the fuss about the ordinariates. I suppose that the fact that the people in the ordinariate will be able to continue to worship in the manner to which they are accustomed means a great deal more to the departing Episcopalians/Anglicans than I realize.

God bless them in their new home in the Roman Catholic Church.

June Butler

Lionel Deimel

This is very helpful as a public statement. It is rather a stretch to say that the Anglican Communion was formed more than 450 years ago, however. I don’t know anyone who has asserted that before.

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